Category Archives: Italian

Daddy Jack’s claws its way to tastiness

We had driven by the neon lights reading “chowder house” for years. Wedged in between other small establishments on the east side of Lower Greenville, it just took us a while to finally stop in. Finally, a recent Saturday night presented us with a free schedule and a reminder to check out Dallas’ Daddy Jack’s.

Assuming we would be pleading for an 8 p.m. reservation, I made a call in to the restaurant’s listed number around 5. Then again at 5:10, 5:30 p.m. After I pressed the final number, I got a busy signal. All we could hope is that the restaurant – which would prove to be as small as it appears on the outside – could spare one small table for two.

Not surprisingly, we had to delay before walking through the front door, which led to two swinging doors that folded out into the small, packed dining room.

A woman, who is clearly accustomed to being in charge of the front of the house here, told us it would be 45 minutes. As she took our name, I looked around for a bar, a place to sit, a place to loiter. Nothing. Our option, she said, was to go next door to the Crown and Harp, a name I only recollected as some joint that has karaoke.

We walked over to this establishment, which had to be just barely smaller than its restaurant neighbor, and had a couple of drinks. (They do proudly pour a worthy Lakewood Brewery wheat from the tap.)

Our woman from Daddy Jack’s came through about three times with her clipboard, requesting people to tab out and come to their tables at her restaurant. Finally, she made the same request to us.
Tables topped with white and red checkered tablecloths were in three, narrow rows across the restaurant. Our small table was in the middle of the center isle.
The crab fingers are very good, but average when compared to other plates in town. (Photo from Facebook)

The crab fingers are very good, but average when compared to other plates in town. (Photo from Facebook)

Our waitress was over fast enough, offering us a list of specials and the restaurant’s “famous crab fingers.” While sounding passionate enough about the paella, these little crab claws soaking in a butter were something this woman seemed to already assume we’d order. Of course, we did.

The small plate came out, presenting these oily little claws, limping in an oil that proved to have a welcomed, copious amount of garlic. But, any chef can throw a bunch of garlic in some oil and let crab claws sit. These were fine, but not the “most amazing thing,” as I heard our waitress also tell the table next to us. Maybe had their been less hype, there would have been less disappointment in this average appetizer.

What is worth skipping the crab fingers here for are the soups. The New England clam chowder is hearty with plenty of chunks of clam and aromatic with generous flavors of rosemary. The lobster bisque is smooth and just rich enough, seeming to get more savory with each spoonful.

For our main course, I asked our waitress if I should go with the special seafood paella or the plate of the small surf and turf. I neglected the fact that she recommended the pricier dish, but really, this wasn’t an average surf and turf. The small lobster tail was heavily seasoned but perfectly balanced when dipped in butter. The small filet was a cut of meat so tender that any person would be smart to order beef in this seafood spot.

The surf and turf comes in this larger size, as well as a smaller one. (Facebook)

The surf and turf comes in this larger size, as well as a smaller one. (Facebook)

While this plate was fine, another was superb. The lobster Fra Diavlo here starts with an ambitiously sized plate filled with linguini.

If it stopped there, it would already be too much food.

Then, there’s half a lobster, clams, mussels and shrimp. But what makes this dish one to crave is the spicy marinara in which it all drowns. It never runs out of flavor. If it were pasta and sauce alone, a diner would be in heaven. The added bonus of some shellfish helps; unfortunately, the lobster was a bit overcooked, clearly tougher than the lobster tail sitting on the surf and turf plate.

There was no need, but our persuasive – and incredibly friendly – waitress convinced us to indulge a few bites further. The key lime pie was worth it. A crumbly crust topped with a smooth, light tart was a perfect end to this evening.

Daddy Jack’s
Location: 1916 Greenville Ave. in Dallas, 75206, 214-826-4910
Hours: 5:30 to 10 .m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
Price: $$
Service: Extremely friendly and knowledgable
Ambiance: Intimate and dark, the low lighting seems to reflect a red atmosphere from the checkered tables
Attire: Dressy-casual
Payment information: All major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer and wine


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Filed under Italian, Seafood

Piggie Pies raises the bar in delivery pizza for Upper Greenville

Consider yourself lucky if you live within delivery distance of an acceptable pizza place. Pizza Hut doesn’t count and Papa Johns isn’t quite good enough. Piggie Pies, however, is.


A small pizza with pepperoni, olives, onions and cheese from Piggie Pies Pizza and Pasta. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Having just moved within the three-mile radius of Piggie Pies’ delivery area, I’m fortunate to have a cheese-covered pie at such a convenience.

While the mozzarella cheese coats whatever toppings the pizza has for the night, the sauce doesn’t have a chance of being hidden. Boasting garlic and oregano in every red bite, the flavor overtakes whatever taste the bread might have.

Lacking in originality, the restaurant’s website is proud of its “fresh toppings,” but nothing that has made its way on a pie has proven that the words are a lie. Veggies are crisp and meats are flavorful–the pepperoni is soft with a kick and the sausage is authentic enough when covered with cheese.

The menu also has a list of pasta that’s dense enough to find something worthy, with the cream-based sauces proving to be the best. The red sauce is acceptable and the meatballs aren’t the worst for delivery options.

The chicken Alfredo has a sauce thick and deserving of its name, unlike the runny, savorless imitations around Dallas. The carbonara can fill one up after a few bites: the Alfredo in this is overpowered with salt by the bacon and ham that’s tossed with sautéed onion, tomato and pasta.

This isn’t the best pizza I’ve tasted in Dallas. If I lived closer to Fireside Pies, I might opt for take-out over delivery. As that’s not the case, delivery will do; and with Piggie Pies, it will do just fine.

Piggie Pies Pizza and Pasta
Location: 5315 Greenville Ave., Suite 120B, 75206, 214-821-6465
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Price: $
Ambiance:  Small dining space with few tables and, usually, a line of customers to take their pizzas to-go
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: None served

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June 2, 2012 · 10:58 am

Dallas food trucks to pull up to Stonewall Jackson Elementary Saturday

Ten of Dallas’ food trucks will park their wheels at Stonewall Jackson Elementary Saturday for lunch. They won’t take over the school’s field because it’s nice parking space, but because some of the school’s parents had the idea to raise money for the Stonewall Gardens.

Katie Brown (left) and Jeanne Ferguson organized the Food Truck Field Day at Stonewall Jackson Elementary March 31. Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS

Katie Brown and Jeanne Ferguson, both parents of Stonewall students, had the idea among a group trying to pick out a fundraiser. Going with the rising food truck trend in Dallas, they, and food truck owners, are expecting a good turnout for the event. Many of the people who operate the participating food trucks said that having such a gathering at a school is new–in Dallas, at least.

Read the whole story that ran in neighborsgo.

So is the cause worth going to the event? The garden is funded by donations and support of the community, plus, there’s a good lineup for lunch. Here’s who’s driving to East Dallas for the event.

The Butcher’s Son–Serving up Johnsonville sausage in every gourmet way they can think of
Cajun Tailgators–Cajun deliciousness on wheels
Dos Paisanos–This truck has both Salvadorian and Mexican cuisine
Easy Slider–It’s hard to believe there was a time before mobile sliders
Enticed Shaved Ice–The high tomorrow is 85 degrees: perfect for a gourmet snow cone
Gennarino’s–Three brothers from Naples run this Neopolitan-style friggitoria
Nammi Truck–Preparing Vietnamese favorites, banh mi
Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe–Get a grilled cheese any way you want it
Ssham BBQ–Korean barbecue tacos? Yes, please.
Trailercakes–Two trends collide with cupcakes and a food truck

Want to go?
Stop by Stonewall Jackson Elementary, 5828 E. Mockingbird Lane, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. Trucks are planned to be on the field behind the school. Admission is $5 and food is purchased separately from vendors.

Easy Slider is one truck coming to the food truck field day that benefits Stonewall Gardens. Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS

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Filed under American, Dessert, Events, Food Trucks, Italian, Latin American, Salvadoran, Sandwiches, Vietnamese

Prego satisfies, after all

Most Dallas residents should stay indoors on the weekend of the Texas-OU football game.  Wherever one does venture out that weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll be welcomed by a host who is tired of greeting for the hundredth time that evening and a small table with a frazzled waitress.

My experience at Prego Pasta House this particular weekend of 2010 had me avoiding the restaurant for 13 months. After a delayed waitress brought two incorrect bottles of wine, our table had a plate of soggy crab claws before I had seafood linguine that had me questioning my health.

However, after passing the restaurant’s doors so many times on Upper Greenville, we decided we’d stop in again. The beginning was acceptable. A fairly friendly greeter (who appears to be an owner) walked us to a table — the same one as the previous visit — and we had the same waitress walk up to us.

We did get the correct bottle of wine, with the same wait as the crowded evening before. However, the food made the dinner an experience that we will definitely repeat.

Crab claws at Prego Pasta House

The crab claws are supposedly famous, and this time, the butter-soaked claws were of a tender consistency, with a simple lemon-butter sauce. Soon after the plate was empty, there were adequate leftovers on the plate for dipping bread.

The chicken Marsala was delicious, though, the taste was a bit of a surprise. The Marsala wine sauce came off a bit more like stroganoff, extremely heavy in the taste of mushrooms and creamier than some attempts at Marsala. Nonetheless, the slices of mushrooms and small cutlets of chicken tossed in the indecisive sauce was a plate worth ordering again.

Chicken Marsala at Prego Pasta House

The chicken came with an unnecessary side of spaghetti with marinara sauce, though. While the plain marinara was just fine, had they had the spaghetti under the chicken, mushrooms and Marsala sauce, the plate could have been near perfection.

The menu has 10 items under its “desserts” heading, a list that appears impressive. Though my next trip will absolutely involve ordering a cannoli, we went for the seemingly safe tiramisu.

Tiramisu at Prego Pasta House

The long slice laid flat on its side with a blob of whipped cream topping its soaked sponge cake. Not a traditional presentation, but the fork dove in just as easily.

The cream, mascarpone and cinnamon creation was one of the best I’ve ever had.  The cinnamon complemented its fellow ingredients, avoiding disguising them like so many other tiramisu recipes do.

Like many restaurants, Prego can have an off night, but get through the doors on a good one, and the food is worth your risk.

Prego Pasta House
Location: 4930  Greenville Ave., 75206, 214-363-9204
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday, 12 to 11 p.m.
Price: $$ (entrees $8.95 to $21.95)
Ambiance:  Intimate
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar


Filed under Dessert, Italian

Olivella’s provides crisp pies, rustic atmosphere

Thin crust pizza is everywhere lately, so when one place serving Neapolitan-style pizza has a line out the door almost every night, it’s doubtful you’ll walk out disappointed. Southern Methodist University is lucky to be across from Olivella’s, a small restaurant serving up crispy pies topped with fresh tomato sauce.

The regina margherita pizza at Olivella's. Photo by Taylor Adams

This isn’t your hearty, greasy, guilty-but-pleasing pizza, but it’s one that has a light satisfaction, with less guilt and more than enough flavors. The menu has enough pies to choose from, as well as salads, pastas and sandwiches.

The margherita is a good choice here, though the regina margherita, for $1 more, is worth the small investment for the blend of housemade cheeses, rather than the housemade mozzarella in the classic.

Even in the winter, these tomatoes seem fresh enough to make your pizza soggy with tomato juice (which is one reason you don’t take your time eating a pie here with tomatoes on it).

Some other pies load the thin, bubbled crust with meat, any of which are satisfactory, but whichever piece you pick up from the metal pan will have a stream of grease coming from it.

Salads are typical and a good intro for your pie, but they aren’t worth filling up on before your meal.

The cramped restaurant of mismatched, wobbling tables gives you a feeling you’ve stepped into a pizza joint outside of Dallas, and there’s a good chance you’ll start your wine before the meal. The wine list is a short one, listing domestic and Italian wines, any of which typically come out a bit too warm.

The pizzas are also available for carry-out if you don’t feel like waiting for a table in the restaurant or on the sidewalk in front of it.

Olivella's is located at 3406 McFarlin Blvd. in Dallas.

3406 McFarlin Blvd., Dallas 75205, 214-528-7070 (The second location, Neo Pizza, provides a rather different experience in Victory Park)
11:45 a.m. “until the oven closes,” which is listed between 10-11 p.m., daily
Ambiance: Indoor and sidewalk seating. Wobbling, wooden tables that provide minimal elbow room with a pie and drinks on them.
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Wine and beer

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Filed under Italian, Pizza

Terilli’s reopens doors with Italchos, Italian favorites

In a city where copious amounts of cheese cover tortilla chips and French fries, loaded with meat and jalepeños, there’s another cheese-covered delicacy: Italchos.

Terilli's Italchos with ricotta, tomato and roasted garlic.

Terilli’s serves this Italian take on nachos that can take the place of any meal. These handmade pizza chips can be topped with whatever toppings you choose from the menu, but what goes beneath those toppings is a sweet pizza sauce that makes this appetizer better than most nachos you’ve had. You can keep your toppings simple with a choice of cheese and basil or go take them up a notch with options like smoked salmon. The ricotta, however, was a disappointment, blending in with the sauce, rather than adding that extra richness whenever you bite into it.

Since it has just recently reopened since the fire in the spring 2010, we thought it might be a good idea to order every course. After a bowl of creamed jalepeño soup, which I once feared and now love, I took one bite of shrimp and two bites of angel hair from my capellini di Angelo, where I really wasn’t missing much. It was fine, but I’ll make sure to go with something else on the menu.

In between these two courses was the lowest point, though. I had just stopped myself from finishing the soup, one that kicked its spice in at the back of my throat with each spoonful. I’m rarely excited when someone places a simple dinner salad in front of me, and when I made myself take a bite of this oil-slopped lettuce, I remembered why. To call it dull would be too lenient. For a restaurant that seemed to deliver above my expectations, it was nearly an insult to have the mediocrity of this salad on the table. That’s ok though, do you really look forward to the salad course of a meal? Me neither.

After my pasta, we had tiramisu, which wasn’t the top recommendation of our sincerely enthusiastic waitress, but it was better than your average restaurant’s attempt.

If you’re not crazy about a heavy meal, take a glass a wine with an order of Italchos up to the rooftop with your friends. The view of Greenville Avenue is decent (at least better than Lowest Greenville right now) and on a good night, this has the best seats in the restaurant.

Location: 2815 Greenville Ave. in Dallas, 214-827-3993
Hours: Lunch, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Brunch, Sunday , 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Price: $$$
Service: Could be more attentive, but the staff appears happy to work there and sincere about making your dining experience a good one
Ambiance: Indoor, patio and rooftop seating– on a nice night, you probably want to be outside. But with a piano playing on the inside, you can escape from Dallas for the duration of a meal.
Attire: Business casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar


Filed under Italian

A cannoli that’s worth it (in Dallas!)

I’m writing from New Jersey today, but last night inspired me to write about a small spot in Dallas. We went into Philadelphia yesterday, where I had one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever had in the U.S. after stopping by a small bakery near the Italian market that had an assortment of Italian sweets, and of course, an amazing cannoli.

Turns out our restaurant, Villa Di Roma, gets their cannois from this bakery, known as Isgro Pasticceria. So lucky me, I got to have two amazing cannolis in one day. The pastry was flaky, but dense and crisp enough to encase the fluffy, rich ricotta filling. It doesn’t exactly cheer me up, knowing that I’ll soon be over 1,000 miles from this Italian delicacy.

A muffuletta and cannoli to go from Jimmy’s Food Store/Photo: Michael Danser

Fortunately, Jimmy’s has proven to be an acceptable go-to for my cravings of Italian market goods, sandwiches, and even desserts in Dallas. The muffuletta is massive and delicious, just as it should be, with fresh cut cheese and deli meat with olives that try to overwhelm each bite.

More importantly, this is the only place in Dallas where I bite into a cannoli and think, “yes,” rather than, “why is there a Texan messing up a Sicilian dessert?” The traditional ricotta filling is smooth and on the verge of being dense. The pastry is crisp with a few small air bubbles. The cannoli isn’t a sweet dessert, which is why places offer it with chocolate chips or pistachios. Get a traditional or chocolate (for 75 cents more), but really you shouldn’t bother choosing; just split both with a friend to make sure you don’t miss out.

This Italian food store also has isles of Italian wine, some of which have been praised by local publications, along with fresh, uncooked pasta to go, olives and other necessities that may go with your Italian cooking. I still need to go back to try the meatball sandwich, but for now, I can’t walk in without getting a cannoli.

Jimmy’s Food Store
Location: 4901 Bryan St., Dallas, 214-823-6180
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.
Service: They’re friendly when you order quickly
Ambiance: The market has a few small tables, each a perfect spot for an afternoon sandwich (or cannoli)
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: All major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Wine (If you buy a bottle and eat lunch there, they’ll open the bottle for you.)
Seating: Indoor and outdoor (sidewalk in front of the market)

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Filed under Italian, Sandwiches